Each year, October is the month when we turn our hearts toward the hopeful dogs waiting to find forever homes. In honor of national Adopt-A-Shelter-Dog month, I wanted to share some ways that you can get involved with your local animal shelter.
As an animal advocate for many years, I recently released my first children’s book about that very topic. Gypsy to the Rescue tells the story of a smaller than average German Shepard pup who is looking for her forever home. After a series of failed adoptions, Gypsy meets a genuine friend in a young fisherman named Charlie and his uncle that she found at a pier in the Florida Keys. Gypsy took fate into her own paws and throughout the story, Gypsy shows her kind heart and good intentions, defying the odds that were set against her from the very beginning.
Although this book is fictional, my inspiration came from the true story of when I fostered a small German Shepard pup from a shelter in Florida. I named her Gypsy because she went through quite a journey before we met. When the volunteers at the rescue told me what they knew of her story, it broke my heart. All dogs deserve a chance to live a happy, safe, and loving life with a caring family.
Adoption should be a solution to animal homelessness and a way for people to connect with future pets that need forever homes. Unfortunately, there are too many unwritten stories about animals that are rescued and then returned to shelters. Luckily, most animal shelters and rescue centers are managed by compassionate animal advocates that give these animals the love they may never have had before their arrival.
If your home is not ready for a pet, or you’re still on the fence about adding a new furry family member, there are plenty of other ways to support local animal shelters in your area. Some of the many shelter needs include:
For a variety of reasons, shelters and rescue centers are always in need of foster homes for pets. There is no such thing as a perfect foster home and of course, there are many things to consider before signing up for this type of responsibility. However, fostering gives a rescue animal the opportunity to get out of a cage, and provide the positive reinforcement that will set up the animal for what life could be like in a home, even if it is temporary. If you have experience taking care of a pet, and your heart is open to it, fostering can make a huge difference for the animal and potentially for your family as well.
If you are not ready to foster, consider transporting rescued animals to their destined foster home. Transportation can be a limited resource for shelters and rescue centers. By providing a safe ride to a foster home you are giving a rescued animal the chance to avoid being indefinitely placed in an overpopulated shelter that may or may not have room for them. It may seem like a simple act of kindness but becoming an animal transporter can be a huge help.
There typically is an age requirement to volunteer with animals, but it could also be a fun and enriching experience to do while accompanying your younger children. If you do not have a pet at home, by volunteering at an animal shelter or rescue center, your children will be in a safe and controlled environment where they can learn more about animals and how to take care of them. Volunteering could include dog walking, animal socialization, cleaning and kennel maintenance, or helping with odd jobs around the shelter. There may also be opportunities like the “Dog’s Day Out Program” at Second Chance Animal Shelter in Massachusetts. This amazing program gives a rescue dog the chance to spend an adventurous day with a registered volunteer.
Donating your time is free but donating money and/or resources to rescues and local shelters is a welcomed and generous gift. Check with your local shelter to see their donation policy and what they are willing to accept. A few of the most common items that most shelters will accept are: towels, leashes, toys, brushes, beds, food & dishes, cleaning supplies, and newspapers. Most animal shelters even have Amazon wishlists that they organize themselves. The benefit of Amazon wishlists is that you can have the order shipped directly to their facility while donating those items from the comfort of your home.
By helping your local shelters, rescue centers, and foster families, you too can play an integral part in providing a better life for innocent animals in need. Gypsy’s courage and ability to trust humans after all that she had been through is admirable and rare. Not every dog has as much fortitude as Gypsy, but all dogs who are in the rescue and shelter system deserve the chance to find their happily ever after.
Thanks for reading,